Interning U.S. Army European Command USAID

Written By Kate Hanlon

As an Army ROTC cadet, I was thankful to have the opportunity to work at United States European Command in Stuttgart Germany. Within European Command, I work in the J-9, the interagency partnering directorate.  The J9 Directorate embodies a “whole of society” approach, bringing in a wide range of perspectives by integrating U.S. and nongovernmental agencies, academic institutions, international organizations, and private-sector partners to better execute EUCOM operations. For example, in the J-9, I was working for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Much of the work in the USAID office at EUCOM revolved around managing the 11 USAID mission countries in Europe, communicating with D.C. about USAID policy, and communicating what USAID does to the Command. The idea behind this is that the United States military and government will be more effective if the parts regularly communicate and coordinate. For example, what USAID does and what the Army’s Civil Affairs branch does has a lot of crossover and requires regular communication.

On a typical day as the intern, I would come into work at 7 am, attend coordinating meetings from other directorates and within the J-9, work on my assigned projects, report my progress to my supervisor and leave around 5 pm. One of my ongoing projects was to produce country fact sheet reports on the current USAID missions. I would gather data from the country teams, and the published Country Development Cooperation Strategy, and organize in a concise, thorough, and graphically pleasing product. The project required me to research USAID documents, talk with country teams, and formulate an appealing design. These country fact sheets were used to communicate USAID missions to Commanders at EUCOM. Another ongoing project I had was researching recent Chinese economic influence in Europe and its effects on EUCOM missions. I used the data I collected to produce a report with recommendations for alternating EUCOM strategy in the affected regions. While these were my ongoing projects, I also assisted in various other tasks, such as helping to coordinate workshops, training, and events. We also had the opportunity to represent cadet command to foreign officers in Germany and other ally countries.

I found the J-9 a very surprising place to be. I knew that civil-military coordination was becoming increasingly important, but I had no idea how extensive it was. I was very interesting to be exposed to career paths in fields I never knew existed. For example, the military has people whose whole job it is to coordinate with OFDA, the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance. I learned more about the type of officer I wanted to be and different career paths in strategic level operations rather than the tactical level that I am typically exposed to. Overall I found the experience to be very eye-opening and broadening. Seeing behind the curtain on strategic planning has allowed me to look at what I do more critically and be engaged on a deeper level.


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